Reddit aka “the front page of the internet” is now worth a whopping $3 billion following a recent investment round that saw its value increase by $300 million. Half of that amount came from none other than Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, a company that seems to have a finger in every pie these days. Reddit raised the other $150 million from a number of other high-profile investors, including Fidelity, Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, and Snoop Dogg.
The fact that Tencent decided to invest in another major company isn’t really newsworthy in and of itself. However, what makes this particular investment so odd is that Reddit has been banned in China for some time. Things get even stranger when you consider that Tencent owes a lot of its huge success as a company to the infamous Great Firewall of China. This is the very same censorship system that prevents Chinese users from accessing websites like Reddit, Facebook, YouTube, and Skype, among many others.
Tiananmen Square Massacre and Winnie the Pooh
Reddit has always been a place where users could freely share any information they wanted as long as they abided by some very basic rules, which tend to differ from thread to thread. Unsurprisingly, Tencent’s recent move caused a lot of backlash among redditors, many of whom fear that their beloved platform may soon be subject to extreme censorship. Although that’s not very likely to happen as long as Reddit continues to be based in the US, their fears are not entirely unjustified.
The Chinese government is infamous for banning any sort of content that might challenge the status quo. This includes pictures of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, which were violently suppressed by the government and lead to the deaths of around 10,000 civilians. Needless to say, images of the Tiananmen Square Massacre can land you in hot water in China even today. As expected, however, those exact images were shared by tens of thousands of Reddit users these past few days.
Another thing that can get you in trouble in China is sharing pictures of Winne the Pooh. As strange as that may seem, the lovable cartoon bear was banned in the country in 2017. Winnie sort of resembles the Chinese president Xi Jinping and the government was apparently fed up with all the people who were comparing the two on social media. Similar to the Tiananmen Square pictures, images of Winnie the Pooh blew up on Reddit ever since news broke that Tencent is investing in the platform.
Tencent is Bigger Than You May Think
$150 million seems like a lot of money to invest in a platform that you can’t even access from your own country, but that’s virtually just pocket change for Tencent. The Chinese tech giant is worth well over $500 billion and is constantly growing thanks to subsidiaries that operate across a large variety of industries. The company has a hand in everything ranging from web services and entertainment to artificial intelligence and gaming. In total, Tencent owns stakes in hundreds of different companies, including a few well-known US-based ones like Snapchat, Tesla Motors, Activision-Blizzard, and Epic Games.